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Growing Pains’ Tracey Gold stars in a new reality show which steps into the mysterious lives of women who suffer from eating disorders. There are several things that make this a unique show. Firstly, eating disorders are not easily understood and have largely remained untouched by the media. Second, Tracey Gold uses her own private experience with Anorexia to relate to the women on the show and to expose the dangerous and life threatening nature of eating disorders.

The premise of the show is to illustrate a realistic look into the disease, raise awareness about the severity and seriousness of eating disorders, and to demonstrate the longevity and duration of recovery. Tracey hopes to take the shame, secrecy, and silence away from eating disorders, and make this something people can talk about and treat. “What I wanna do with this show is kind of shed some light on it and not make it such a secret,” she said of the impetus to put the show on Lifetime. “I want to make it so people open up the conversation and talk about it and understand eating disorders come in lots of forms and it’s not exactly what you think it looks like.”

Although this idea is full of hope and potential, the thought of exposing an eating disorder’s deadliest secrets for public consumption has introduced some uneasiness. Many professionals have demonstrated concern that vulnerable audiences will be adversely impacted.

“One of the things that I have learned in the world of eating disorders is that information can be used as a tool or a weapon,” said nutritionist Michele Vivas, sipping from a thermos between appointments at her busy Rockridge office. “There are going to be a certain number of people who watch that show and think, ‘My God, what a sad, unnecessary amount of energy spent on something so self harming.’ And there’s going to be a certain number of people watching saying, ‘Let me get a pen and piece of paper and write that down, because this is going to be my new manual.’”

Will this information help narrow the gap of ignorance and educate people about eating disorders, or will it generate an even more massive setback by providing society with the destructive secrets for creating and maintaining eating disorders?

Starving Secrets Premiers December 2, 2012, at 10:00 pm, on Lifetime Television